‘Ali & Ava’ Director Clio Barnard and Stars Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook On Exploring Connection: “I Think It Was The Most Free I’ve Ever Felt” – Contenders London

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Clio Barnard took inspiration from two people she met while filming previous films for Ali & Ava, which premiered at the 2021 Cannes Film Festival.

“I knew I wanted it to be a love story,” Bernard said to Anna Smith at Deadline’s Contender’s Event: London. She also described the idea behind the film as a “bio-fiction.”

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Joining Bernard on the stage were the film’s stars Adeel Akhtar and Claire Rushbrook.

“It all felt very organic and very easy and slow moving,” said Akhtar, “to the point where when we were on set, and I was actually being Ali, I think it was the most free I’ve ever felt.”

“It’s clear from reading the script that it was a very tender, warm, and funny love story” said Rushbrook. “Just being free with no preconceptions… I don’t feel like I came with much prepared, just a keenness to being open.”

In terms of improvisation, Rushbrook said “Adeel was quite adept at fucking about.”

“That’s the generosity of Clio’s process,” Akhtar responded.

Cannes Review: Clio Barnard’s ‘Ali & Ava’

A story about the emotional complexity of grief and love, Ali & Ava follows Ali (Akhtar), a British Pakistani landlord, and Ava (Rushbrook), an Irish teacher and single mother, as they navigate a mutual desire for connection despite their own personal dilemmas. Ellora Torchia, Shaun Thomas and Natalie Gavin also star in the pic from writer-director Barnard.

Ali & Ava was produced by Barnard’s long-term producer Tracy O’Riordan of Moonspun Films, with finance from BBC Films, BFI and Screen Yorkshire. Watch a teaser from the pic here.

Check out the panel video above.

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